Introduction to NASA’s "Black Marble" Night Lights Data

Earth at Night

This training will be delivered in English and Spanish. If you would like to join us or pass along to colleagues who will find it useful, please do so. Please see the training details and registration information below.

At night, satellite images of Earth capture a uniquely human signal - artificial lighting. Remotely-sensed lights at night provide a new data source for improving our understanding of interactions between human systems and the environment. NASA has developed the Black Marble, a daily calibrated, corrected, and validated product suite, so night light data can be used effectively for scientific observations. Black Marble is playing a vital role in research on light pollution, illegal fishing, fires, disaster impacts and recovery, and human settlements and associated energy infrastructures. The data (originally retrieved from the VIIRS day night band sensor) has been corrected by multiple novel algorithms, providing high-quality, cloud-free, atmospheric-, terrain-, vegetation-, snow-, lunar-, and stray light-corrected nighttime radiances.

This webinar will focus on building the skills needed to choose the appropriate night lights product, acquire and understand Black Marble data, and how to use the data in analyses for tracking urbanization, electrification, and disaster monitoring.

This work was partially supported by the GEO Human Planet Project #16-GEO16-0055.

Learning Objectives: By the end of this training, attendees will: 

  • Understand the new capabilities of NASA’s Black Marble product and which nighttime lights product to use for different science applications
  • Learn the basics of how to acquire and interpret information in Black Marble data
  • Manipulate Black Marble data and create time-series analyses
  • Recognize distortions that need to be corrected in Black Marble images
  • Basic application of Black Marble data for topics relevant to the SDGs: tracking urbanization, disaster monitoring, and electrification

Relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals: 

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Target 11.5: By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations

Audience: Local, regional, state, federal, and international organizations interested in global Earth system science and applications to topics relevant to the SDGs: tracking urbanization, disaster monitoring, and electrification.